Have you ever had to scrap a large word count because of drastic changes to the plot? For the third year in a row, I am NaNoWriMoing it up. In 2012, I did 62K, and I rocked it! In 2013, I juggled my time with a month old baby and barely scraped by, getting 50K in the last few hours on the last day.
Going into 2014, I reread what I’d written for book 2 of my series. I’m working with four different POVs, and the earthquake in one POV wasn’t lining up with the earthquake in the other. I had no idea how many days had passed with this character wandering in the desert, while this other character tried to find his way off the pygmy islands. And that was important, because character 2 had to leave the islands and get to the desert before the monsters killed off character 1.
I sat down and created a spreadsheet that would make Liz proud. It has a column for each POV, and rows blocked out for the major events (earthquake, monster attack, etc.). I filled out each column with events I knew needed to happen, and moved them around until they fit. This wasn’t easy for me. I’m a pantser. But doing this brought to light another major issue. The antagonist in one POV wasn’t enough. After much brainstorming with my sis-in-law, I finally found the solution to my story problems about the middle of last month.
I ended up scrapping 55K from what I’d written in 2012. Therein lies the insecurity. Some of the events I’d written still occur, but a handful of characters have different roles now. I tried approaching these scenes from scratch, but the voice in my brain keeps whispering, “Your writing isn’t going to be as good. You’re going to forget and leave out those lines you love.” It squashes my creativity. I whip open my other document and comb through the scenes thinking, “Maybe I can just revise this.” But then I spend time debating if each line would fit…time not writing.
I’ve since changed my tactics for NaNo. I started at the midpoint in a POV I didn’t focus on in the previous years. This is fresh stuff, stuff I need to write, and I’ve gotten 14K of it so far this month. I’m shoving my insecurity aside, leaving it for the end. And the best part? So long as I stay with the world-wide event limits of my spreadsheet timeline, I can pants it as much as I want.
Are you doing NaNoWriMo? Have you ever had to start from scratch with a story? Do you hear those voices whispering that you’ll never do better than what you did before?
My NaNoWriMo screen name is hippiechos (only 1 e). I’d love to be your buddy!